Parsnips are the most underrated of the rooty vegetables. But these winter veggies are chock-ful of flavor, versatility, and nutrients. Here is the 411 of parsnips, and some delicious ways to use them.

Though they easily get outshined by their carrot-relatives, and play second fiddle to other seasonal winter vegetables, such as parsnips raw unpeeled 300x200 Parsnips: its whats for dinnersquash, parsnips have a lot to offer.

Parsnips are rich in potassium and folate–even more than carrots are–which are essential for heart and cell health. Folate, in particular, is needed for the creation of new, healthy cells, and those who lack enough of this B vitamin is at greater risk for certain cancers or birth defects in pregnant women. Parsnips are also loaded with fibre, and a good source of vitamin C and protein.

Parsnips have a fantastic, unique flavor; they are slightly sweet and peppery with nutty undertones but, overall, are subtle and mild in taste. Whether parsnips are a regular in your kitchen or you are completely new to the vegetable, here are three of our favorite ways to use them:

Curry Parsnip Fries

Makes 4 servings

2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-inch sticks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the parsnips with the olive oil until well-coated. Add the spices and toss until well mixed.

Spread the parsnips on a baking sheet and bake until tender, stirring every 10 minutes, until soft, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Coconut Parsnip Puree

Serves 4

1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
Parsley for garnish
Large flake coconut, toasted, for garnish

Put the parsnips, coconut milk, salt, and pepper in a medium pot. Mix, then add the garlic and thyme. Bring to medium heat and let cook, simmering, until tender, about 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the parsnips to a food processor. Add the coconut oil. Process until smooth, adding some of the milk mixture from the pot so the texture is creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with parsley and coconut flakes. Serve warm.

Maple Oat Parsnip Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups whole grain flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup  raisins
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup grated peeled parsnips
3/4 cup nondairy milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the flour, oats, flaxseeds, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add the raisins and ginger. Mix well.

Put the parsnips, nondairy milk, maple syrup, applesauce, and coconut oil in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the parsnip mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Spoon the mixture among the prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer each muffin onto a wire rack to cool completely.